India And Australia – Development Of The Relations

deepak mehto
By deepak mehto September 16, 2019 18:04

 India And Australia - Development Of The RelationsAbout India And Australia

The Defence Minister of India is expected to visit Australia in November this year when both countries are likely to conclude the long-pending mutual logistics support agreement and a broader maritime cooperation agreement to elevate the strategic partnership.

Expectations from the visit

  • The two countries have gradually increased cooperation in the field of maritime domain awareness. An information exchange agreement in this regard becomes important for better maritime domain awareness.
  • Australia has submitted a draft mutual logistics support agreement after India signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. in 2016. But India wants to consider more such agreements only after the first comes into operation. Now that India has signed such an agreement with South Korea, India may consider signing the agreement with Australia too.

India And Australia – Development of the relations

  • India and Australia have slowly built trust over the years.
  • They both established diplomatic relations for the first time during the pre-Independence period, when the Consulate General of India was first opened as a Trade Office in Sydney in 1941.
  • Australia’s first High Commissioner to India was appointed in 1944.
  • India’s first High Commissioner to Australia arrived in Canberra in 1945.
  • Their relations entered a tough phase when the Australian Government condemned India’s 1998 nuclear tests.
  • Today, India-Australia relations could still be considered in a developmental stage.
  • Relations were revived again when in 2014, Narendra Modi became the first Indian prime minister to visit Australia in 28 years.
  • Bilateral engagements have been considerably consistent since then.
  • Australian Prime Ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull visited India in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
  • Indian President Ram Nath Kovind visited Australia in November 2018.
  • The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or the Quad, has been proposed as a mechanism between India, Australia, the United States, and Japan to promote the rules-based order and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Third Installment of the Joint Naval Exercise of India and Australia AUSINDEX was held this year off the coast of Visakhapatnam

Areas  of Cooperation and difficulty between the two nations

1.Uranium Sales-

  • Differences over the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and exports of Australian uranium remained a major irritant in the bilateral relationship for a long time.
  • With about one-quarter of the world’s uranium and a large share of low-cost reserves, Australia is one of the top three uranium exporters in the world.
  • Australia decided in 2011 to remove its long-standing ban on uranium sales to India, a move that is considered one of Canberra’s major initiatives to improve the relationship.
  • Further cooperation can be explored in this area.

2.Multilateral regional security institutions

  • Australia and India can seek to establish cooperation in the political-security arena, a promising field for the future development of bilateral relations.
  • The major reason for cooperation between the two is the fear of an Asian multilateralism dominated by China.
  • They must play a more active role in institutions helping to build a new regional order.
  • The first regional organization in which India and Australia cooperate on these first-track issues is the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.
  • Established in 2008, the symposium is a biennial meeting of navy chiefs and includes only the littoral states of the Indian Ocean and has a significant security component. But it is yet to achieve any concrete objectives so far.
  • Another organization is the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA, originally known as the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation), which is likely to become a forum of choice for India-Australia cooperation.
  • Initiated in 1997 by the two countries with the objective of promoting regional trade, the IORA came to include maritime security issues in 2008.
  • Better use of these institutions can create deeper collaboration between the two nations.

3.Strategic overlap

  • India’s security problems with its neighbors constitute to deter deeper engagement as Australia fears becoming embroiled in Indo-Pakistani tensions.
  • Similarly, in the case of India, for a long time, Australia does not yet occupy a prominent role in India’s strategic thinking.
  • India expanded its Look East policy in 2003 to other Asia-Pacific countries, including Australia, but Australia was not given priority.
  • Unlike the economic relationship, security interactions between India and Australia are developing slowly but surely.

4.Growing interdependence

  • While difficulties persist between Canberra and New Delhi, the two have shared interests regarding regional stability.
  • They could and should raise their level of maritime cooperation, especially in Southeast Asia, where their interests overlap.
  • The creation in 2012 of an Australia-India-Indonesia troika in the IORA is a step in that direction.
  • Similarly, both the country could potentially cooperate on nonproliferation and disarmament.

Conclusion

  • The India–Australia bilateral relationship has since past suffered from the syndrome of “one step forward, two steps back” but it is no longer the case now.
  • Australia no longer occupies the periphery of India’s vision but has entered the center of its thoughts.

Also read: India South Korea Relation (Updated)

India – Iceland Relation: Scope for More Economic Cooperation

deepak mehto
By deepak mehto September 16, 2019 18:04